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Police Suspect New IRA Group Responsible In Death Of Journalist Covering Riots

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Mary Margaret Olohan Social Issues Reporter

A journalist was shot and killed Thursday night covering riots in Northern Ireland, and police suspect members of the New Irish Republican Army are behind the attack that led to her killing.

29-year-old Lyra McKee was shot dead in what British Prime Minister Theresa May is calling a “shocking and senseless” murder after rioting ensued from police searches in the Mulroy Park and Galliagh areas in Derry, according to BBC News.

Rioters allegedly threw more than 50 bottle bombs at police, hijacked two cars and set them on fire.

“I was standing beside this young woman when she fell beside a police Land Rover tonight in Creggan Derry. I called an ambulance for her but police put her in the back of their vehicle and rushed her to hospital where she died. Just 29 years old. Sick to my stomach tonight,” tweeted Northern Ireland journalist Leona O’Neill.

“There were a number of houses with families — they had all spilled out on the street to see what was happening,” O’Neill told BBC News. “There were young people, there were children on the street, there were teenagers milling about and a gunman just fired indiscriminately up the street.”

The Police Service of Northern Ireland (PSNI) said detectives are investigating and that New IRA members “are likely to be the ones behind this.” Authorities are treating the incident as terrorist activity. (RELATED: IRA Claims Responsibility For Bombs Found In London, Glasgow)

Emergency vehicles arrive at a scene of a riot in Londonderry, Northern Ireland April 18, 2019, in this still image taken from a video from social media. Leona O'Neill via REUTERS

Emergency vehicles arrive at a scene of a riot in Londonderry, Northern Ireland April 18, 2019, in this still image taken from a video from social media. Leona O’Neill via REUTERS

Police said McKee was shot Thursday night by a gunman who appeared to have been aiming for police officers. McKee was standing next to a police car at the time, according to BBC.

“She was taken away from the scene in a police Land Rover to Altnagelvin Hospital but unfortunately she has died,” Assistant Chief Constable Hamilton told BBC News.

“We stand with you as strong as your walls and for as long as they stand,” Irish Prime Minister Leo Varadkar said.

McKee was “one of the most promising journalists” in Northern Ireland, the National Union of Journalists told BBC in a statement.

Politico’s Naomi O’Leary shared a tweet from McKee right before she was shot, depicting Derry amid the riots.

“A journalist has been killed covering riots in Derry. Her name was Lyra McKee. She was 29. She recently signed a two-book deal with Faber, who called her a ‘rising star of investigative journalism’. This is her last tweet, sent from the scene of the unrest,” tweeted O’Leary.

Archbishop of Armagh Eamon Martin pointed out McKee’s death coincides with the historic Good Friday Agreement reached in 1998.

“On Good Friday morn, 21 yrs after our historic peace accord, we wake up to shocking news of pointless, violent death on the streets of Derry. Please pray for her family, friends and colleagues today who must now carry such a heavy cross of grief and pain. Rest in peace,” Martin tweeted.

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